Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Whatever Happened To Good Etiquette And Manners? Here Are Some Tips On How To Cope With Rude Behavior


The waitress finally stopped at our table to take our order.  She never glanced up from her pen and pad to greet us, nor did she crack a smile on her sour puss.

“Are you ready to order?” asked Miss No Smile.

“Yes, I’ll have the salad.  But can you put the dressing on the side?” I asked.

“What?” she snapped, never looking up at me.

“Can I have the dressing on the side?” I calmly repeated.

“You want the dressing on the side?” she asked, as if this was a capital offense.

“Yes.” I replied firmly, trying to hold my temper.

“I’ll see what I can do.” she briskly replied.  

Where is Miss Manners when I need her?

“Hi Edie.  We haven’t spoken in a long time.  I have a lot to tell you.  Please send me some dates so we can schedule a time to meet.  Miss you!”

I hit the SEND button.

A few days later, I checked my email.  No reply.

The next week there was no reply.  And the next few months there was no reply.

I took a deep breath, remembering not to take it personally, and I wrote another email.

“Hi Edie.  I guess you’re pretty busy and haven’t had a chance to answer my last email.  I hope we can catch up soon.”  

Once again I hit the SEND button.

Once again there were no replies.

Once again I felt a dagger in my heart.

I wonder what Emily Post would say about unanswered emails?


I try to be as courteous as I can.  I answer every text, email, private message and phone call.

Since I’m a writer and work from home, I have more time than others because I don’t commute or need to figure out what I’m going to wear.

But what I do is work, and I work hard to earn every paycheck.  My time means money.

Should I be answering every message? No.  Will I stop doing it?  No.

Because being courteous is important to me.

Have the lessons we’re taught in childhood, to be kind and courteous to others, disappeared because we’re too damn busy?

Where do we draw the line between what’s an acceptable behavior and what is rude and not nice?

Technology makes our lives easier.  Yet it‘s also created a society of people who walk next to each other without talking.  They are too busy texting and checking their messages.

Okay, I’m guilty of that.  Just ask my husband and son.  Sorry, guys.

Times have changed.

In a New York Times article entitled, “Incivility Can Have Costs Beyond Hurt Feelings”, Alex J. Parker, author of “How Rude!: The Teenager’s Guide to Good Manners” (Free Spirit Publishing, 1997), explains:

“I would be the first to say that there has been an absolute collapse of civility in the past generation or two. So much of communications is once removed that it adds a layer of distance and anonymity that can only worsen manners.

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a person is taught to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and once they’re used to replacing those thoughts, the positive ones become their new norm.

I think a type of CBT would work well when dealing with rude and discourteous behavior. Replacing feelings of anger with compassion and understanding might do the trick.

Here are two quick tips to try and cope with rude or discourteous behavior:

  • Give the person the benefit of the doubt.  You don’t know what they’re going through.  Perhaps it’s an illness, or they had little sleep.  Be compassionate, even if you find it hard to do.
  • If it’s a close friend or relative, let them know you understand they’re busy, but you’d like to talk to them about whatever is going on.  Having an open discussion can prove very helpful.


If rude behavior continues after you followed the advice above, it’s time to move on.  You may feel disappointed or hurt, but you can’t force another person to behave the way you think they should.

Using good manners in our daily lives, and teaching our children and grandchildren about their importance, is what will bring good etiquette back into fashion.

How do you deal with rude or discourteous behavior?  What has worked for you?

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31 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To Good Etiquette And Manners? Here Are Some Tips On How To Cope With Rude Behavior

  1. Kelly Connor

    Great blog, Cathy! That is my pet peeve- bad manners! Just be nice, but then I have to remember that everyone is going through SOMETHING!

    1. Post author

      Yes, Kelly. If everyone could try to be nice and thoughtful, imagine how much better the world would be! But, alas, I’m afraid that’s a dream. In the meantime, you and I will be kind!!!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.


    1. Post author

      I agree, Jennifer. Technology has made certain things easier, yet in other ways harder. Like you, I’d rather SEE someone in person. But if that’s not possible, a quick email or text suffices. Luckily we’ve been doing fine in person, eh?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  2. Sheryl

    This happens so much – and email makes it so (too) easy to ignore messages! I understand when it’s business-related (sort of), as people’s inboxes get absolutely flooded. I’ve been guilty of hitting the delete button one too many times…but when it comes to personal emails, I never, ever ignore them. THAT is just rude. And as far as the waitress goes, that gets me crazy. How hard is it to make eye contact and smile? I guess harder for some than others…

    1. Post author

      Ah, yes, Sheryl. How hard is it to smile and be nice? But, again, we don’t walk in anyone’s shoes….

      You get exactly what I was saying. I NEVER ignore emails that are personal. I make a point of taking the time to answer an email/text/phone call, no matter how busy my schedule is. You and I certainly agree on that!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  3. Lisa Froman

    Loved this….it’s all so true. I believe the little things are really the big things. Common courtesy and respect open the door to communication. Without them…well, communication falters, society falters….
    Loved this message and the way you communicated it! On another note, so happy about your dad!!!
    Lisa Froman recently posted…Two Things I Don’t Like To Talk AboutMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Thanks about my dad, Lisa. That is so meaningful, and I appreciate it.

      Communication IS so important. It takes so little to quickly dash off a text or email. When your email go unanswered to people you’ve known for years, that is deeply hurtful. Time to reevaluate, eh?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!


  4. Lisa_GrandmasBriefs

    That waitress is appalling. She needs a quick boot out the door by her employer. I hope you didn’t leave a tip.

    I have a bazillion emails in my box that need to be replied to (mostly unwanted PR stuff) so those folks likely think I’m rude. And I always feel horribly rude about not responding to every one of my blog comments. With no comment threading, though, it really stinks (and makes me consider switching hosts… sort of).
    Lisa_GrandmasBriefs recently posted…7 things to shake a stick atMy Profile

    1. Post author

      The waitress? I didn’t do anything about it.

      I try to answer all emails from people I know. The rest depends on time and interest.

      I also try to answer all email comments because I enjoy engaging with my readers. It’s fun!

      But rude people, those you’ve known for years, that say they are too busy to answer your email/texts/phone calls? That is deeply hurtful.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, my friend.

      Best to you always~

  5. Walker Thornton

    I have a hard time holding my tongue! Rude behavior, particularly in the service industry is unacceptable. Of course I wouldn’t say anything to a waitress, though I might to management. And, my tip would reflect my feelings about the service received.
    Like you I work from home, and I feel compelled to reply to emails…unless it’s yet another unknown offering their writing services in broken english with no relevance to my blog. And I expect a certain amount of respect. You’ve offered some sound advice for being compassionate and understanding…up to a point!!
    Walker Thornton recently posted…The Essentials For a Sexy Life ShopMy Profile

    1. Post author

      There is no way to answer every email. I was talking about emails sent to friends that you’ve known for years that go unanswered. That is deeply hurtful.

      As for the service industry, I know they work hard and long hours, so unless it’s VERY bad, I usually don’t say anything and rarely do I lessen the tip. You never know why they are the way they are. I talk to management instead.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts again, Walker.

      Best to you always~

  6. Jennifer

    Dan and I talk about this all the time. You know that phrase, common courtesy? It is starting to seem like politeness and courtesy are not all that common, but we don’t let that drag us down. I much prefer the phrase,kill them with kindness. And I don’t see anything wrong with that 🙂

    1. Post author

      Good point, Jennifer! Common courtesy is almost nonexistent. Okay, maybe not nonexistent, but it sure isn’t as rampant as it used to be. Let’s all kill them with kindness!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend.

      Best to you always~

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Kathy. You are so right about good manners never going out of style. I wish more people would think like you. What a better world we would have!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    1. Post author

      Thanks, Lois. We have to get back to an age of respecting each other, treating each other with kindness and compassion.

      Technology has set us on a fast-forward treadmill from morning till night. We are running all day. It’s time to stop and think about setting aside time for each other!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend.


  7. Lexie

    I completely agree that this last 2-3 generations have no manners, morals or civility. Its appalling how we are all being treated in public and by store clerks. I am so fed up with bad behavior that I make formal complaints against all store clerks , phone representatives and anyone that is rude to me in a business setting. They should all learn basic manners and good behavior habits.

    1. Post author


      It’s good to be proactive because it might help the next customer receive better treatment.

      What has happened in our world? Of course some of it can be blamed on technology, but some of it must be taught to our children. We must set a good example on how to be kind to each other.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  8. Elyse Salpeter

    This is a great topic and one that needs to be addressed. First, service minded businesses must train and teach their staff that courtesy is what is going to keep their customers coming back. That waitress was just plain rude and her tip should have reflected that – sometimes I’d even write a kind note WHY we’re upset – wouldn’t be a bad idea. As for returning calls? Tough one – very easy to ignore a call or email. It’s impersonal. But it’s rude. While I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, sometimes it’s hard. Good post.

    1. Post author

      Thanks so much, Elyse. It’s so nice to read your thoughts, and they are good ones. Leaving a kind note is a great idea, and perhaps it will prove to be a good lesson for the next customer!

      I appreciate you reading my post and sharing your thoughts.

      Best to you~

  9. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Rudeness is rampant in our culture, and I hate it. How can we effect change? Probably just one person at a time, modeling decent behavior with others, just as you always do, Cath. Also, friends like Edie are not worth wasting time over. xo

    1. Post author

      I believe you are right, Helene. It’s just not worth it.

      You are an example of how a friend should be – kind, caring, responsive and thoughtful. I see you have passed that onto your children. Kudos to you and your husband.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, again, my friend,

  10. anotherjennifer

    I always try to respond to people as quickly as possible. I get tons of emails and will sift through just to make sure I don’t miss anyone that truly needs and deserves a response (i.e., not spam or something salesy). In public, I think we need to learn to turn our devices off and pay attention to who we’re with. Technology can be a blessing and a curse I suppose.
    anotherjennifer recently posted…Saying GoodbyeMy Profile

    1. Post author

      How true, Jennifer. Technology is a blessing and a curse.

      When I began writing the post, it was because I didn’t hear from someone who has been in my life for a long time. That’s so hurtful, and I, like a lot of others, have to decide how best to handle it. I’d rather not live with the hurt, so I try to realize that maybe the relationship was just not meant to be.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.


  11. flemily

    I am so with you on those unanswered emails…drives me crazy. I have people who ask me how my son is doing so I will take the time to write them a lengthy reply with details and sure enough, they don’t respond after that…I try not to get upset, but I find it to be so rude and makes me think they didn’t really care, but just went through the motions of acting like they did. I do like your tips to cope with this and will try those rather than stewing over my laptop.
    flemily recently posted…A Plea To Lebron James and The Miami HeatMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Emily. I have found over the years that many people back away from illness because they don’t know how to handle it. I used to get hurt – okay I still do – but we have to decide whether it’s worth staying in touch with that person or allow the relationship to fade away.

      Tough call.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know exactly what you mean. I am with you…


    1. Post author

      Exactly, Anne. We don’t walk in anyone’s shoes, so we don’t know why they are acting a certain way. It’s when the rudeness continues is when we have to decide the best way to handle it.

      The world is not perfect. The best we can do is be the best person we can be.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts~

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